• Lura Ormsbee, & her husband, Nathaniel Currier

Like many of my family history friends, I spend time Googling my ancestor’s surnames in hopes of finding more information about them. It’s also a great way to find people who you didn’t know you were related to.

I was doing this a while back for my Ormsbee family. The Ormsbee (Ormsby) surname is of English origin and dates back to the earliest days of the Puritan migration to America. Richard Ormesby (Ormsby), founder of the family in America, was born in England, but nothing is known of his ancestral line or early life there. He evidently came to New England, toward the beginning of the Puritan migration, as he was on record as a resident of Saco, Maine in 1640.

In one of my many searches, I came across the fact that a Lura Ormsbee was married to Nathaniel Currier (of Currier and Ives).

Lura Ormsbee was born on April 18, 1824 in Brookline, VT. So, that would make her a 4th great-granddaughter of Richard. I couldn’t find much about her early life. Nathaniel was 9 years older than Lura. He was married before, with his first wife, Eliza, passing away in 1843. He and Lura married in 1847.


Lura Ormsbee Currier

Nathaniel learned the lithography business at an early age, being apprenticed at the age of 15 to a Boston printing firm.

In 1835, Currier started his own lithographic business. He initially engaged in printing sheet music, letterheads, handbills, etc. However, he soon took his work in a new direction, creating pictures of current events. In 1840, Currier began to move away from job printing and into independent print publishing. In 1850, James Ives came to work for Currier’s firm as bookkeeper. Ives’ skills as a businessman and marketer contributed significantly to the growth of the company. In 1857, Ives was made a full partner, and the company became known as Currier & Ives.


1850 US Census, New York, The Western Half – 15th Ward, New York Co., NY

The a large-folio print, entitled “The Road, Winter,” was published by Currier in 1853, a few years before the famous partnership with Ives was formed. The scene was drawn by Otto Knirsch, who worked for Currier. The country landscape, with the light of late afternoon on it, forms a background for the span of horses drawing a cutter in which a man and woman are seated amid fur robes. They are Nathaniel Currier and his wife, Lura. The staff of his printing establishment produced this to Currier as a Christmas present. He liked it so much that he added it to list of prints he sold. It is now an expensive rarity.


The Road, Winter

Nathaniel Currier passed away in 1888. Lura died in 1902 and left her large estate to charitable purposes and several private bequests. Currier Hall at Williams College in Williamstown, MA is named for Lura Ormsbee Currier.

Lura Ormsbee Currier and Nathaniel Currier

Lura Ormsbee Currier and Nathaniel Currier

Lura Ormsbee Currier is my 4th cousin, 4 times removed, on my dad’s side.


One thought on “• Lura Ormsbee, & her husband, Nathaniel Currier

  1. Interesting article, I am Nathaniel Currier’s 6th cousin, 6 times removed. Also, remotely related to James Merriott Ives, as he married Charles Currier’s (brother to Nathaniel) wife’s sister.

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